Background: To achieve optimal bone formation one of the most influential parameters has been mentioned to be adequate blood supply. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is hereby of particular interest in bone regeneration, because of its primary ability to induce neovascularization and chemokine affection for endothelial cells (EC), and is considered to be the main regulator of vascular formation. However, the growth factor has yet to be implemented in a clinical setting in orthopaedic intervention surgery. We hypothesised that the development of VEGF in vivo for bone formation in the last decade had progressed towards clinical application since the latest systematic review from 2008.
Objective: This systematic review recapped the last 13 years of in vivo bone regeneration using vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Method: A total of 1374 articles were identified using the PubMed search string (vegf or "vascular endothelial growth factor") and (osteogen∗ or "bone formation" or "bone regeneration"). By 3 selection phases 24 published articles were included by the criteria of being in vivo, using only VEGF for bone formation, published after 2007 and written in English. Articles in vitro, written in different languages than English and older than 2007 was excluded. The most recent systematic review on this subject was published in 2008, with the latest included study from 01 to 11-2007. All included studies were classified based on animal, type of defect, scaffold, control group, type of VEGF, release rate, dosage of VEGF, time of evaluation and results. Each study was evaluated for risk of bias by modified CAMARADES quality assessment for the use in experimental animal studies. The score was calculated by peer review journal publication, use of control group, randomisation of groups, justified VEGF dosage, blinding of results, details on animal model, sample size calculation, comply with ethics and no conflict of interest.
Results: No clinical trials or human application studies were obtained from our search. Experimentally, 11 articles using solely VEGF for bone formation had a group or a timepoint significantly better than the corresponding control group. 18 articles revealed no significant difference of VEGF compared to the control group and 1 article reported a significant decreased bone growth using VEGF compared to control.
Conclusion: Based on these results no clinical studies have yet been performed. However, indications in the best use of VEGF from experimental studies could be made towards that the optimal release is within the first three weeks, in defect models, with the best effect before eight weeks. Future designs should incorporate this with standardised and reproducible models for verification towards clinical practice.
The translational potential of this article: This systematic review aims to assess the existing literature to focus on methodologies and outcomes that can provide future knowledge regarding the solitary use of VEGF for bone regeneration in a clinical setting.